An interesting article today here about former NFL safety Adam Archuleta.
Once the highest paid safety in football, Archuleta's failure in Washington is a great example of two principles of the Christian life.
First, we all perform best when we are working within the boundaries for which we are designed. Both in college and early n his NFL career, Archuleta dominated as a safety who played close to the line, using his nose for the ball to serve as essentially a fourth linebacker. But in Washington, he was asked to completely change his approach and take on the traditional role of a cover safety...at which he failed considerably. Because he was working outside his comfort zone, he began to fail; this in turn led to depression and a spiral downward of increasing failure. Eventually he ended up playing only on special teams. This is a great demonstration of a principle I discuss a lot: finding your passion for ministry instead of just the ministry you are asked to step into by the church or a friend. What are the skills God gave you? What do you love to do? I love writing, bible study, communication, and helping to improve the lives of young men; as such, my ministries are a natural fit for this blog, coaching youth basketball, and teaching in our church youth group. These would be awful for my wife and lead her to pressure and depression; for me, however, these are rewarding and fun ministries. The same is true with anyone - if it feels like you are "walking up the down escalator" in your service to God, you might be in the wrong ministry.
(That is not to say that your calling is easy. It may cause mourning. It may cause pain. It may cause tremendous sacrifice. But it will not be something which is outside of the skillet or desires that God has placed inside you.)
Second, we see with Archuleta the danger of valuing your worth by your works. He bluntly says that his value came from his performance success on the football field. But as we have pointed out here many times, you can only do so much through willpower and work. Eventually you will fail in any area if it is based upon your works - as a spouse, parent, employee, boss, minister, etc. When Archuleta's self worth was based upon his own works, he found himself in misery and depression as soon as things didn't go well. His large max contract--rather than being a reward for years of hard work--instead increased his pressure that he placed on himself to be clearly the best safety in the NFL. And the combination of increased pressure, works-based self-worth, and playing outside of his normal gifts was the perfect storm for failure.
This is a great lesson for all of us. Know the gifts and calling that God has for your life, and stay within the area that He wants you. Understand and truly believe that His love for you is unconditional and based upon your relationship with Him as your adopted Father, not upon your success at your works--and thus, your personal self worth should not be tied to these things either.
Rather, find your "sweet spot" to serve God: the place that God calls you to, that challenges you, and that (when things go well--and they won't always) fills your should with joy. Then value yourself the same whether you are failing or succeeding. Then you can truly live with the peace and joy of the Lord in your life.